Local companies and balloon enthusiasts will also participate in the festival at a much subsidised rate that will include the transport to the Mara, two nights’ accommodation, controlled game drives and balloon rides.

“We have offered various packages for this event to enable people to participate at an affordable cost,” says Meshack Kuria, logistics and operations manager of Africa Balloon Fiesta.

Corporate companies who participate in the initiative will get eight staff members to ride and brand a balloon with their logo and an anti-poaching slogan to support the conservation efforts at a cost of Sh500,000.

Individual packages for the three days are between Sh18,000 and Sh48,500; which includes the entire itinerary.

Balloon enthusiasts will fill the launch field and walk among the tethered balloons as the propane burners inflate the balloons against a dark sky.

Those who merely want to spectate will also be allowed in the fiesta at an entry fee of Sh4,000 for the three days and they will be allowed to walk among the balloons as they inflate on the launch field each morning – just watching the balloons inflate is, in itself, a captivating spectacle.

Spectators can also ask questions and meet the pilots and even help crew members with the inflation process.

The fiesta will engage participants in various activities, from bush carnivals, corporate team building activities, bush dinners and photography competitions with reward prizes.

Balloon glow and other balloon illumination events will be held in the evenings to give the whole occasion a thrilling aura.

Spectators, crews and corporate teams will take part in wildlife photography competitions in various categories including best wildlife photo, best African sunrise and sunset, best aerial photo and landscape capture.

Balloon pilots will particularly enjoy the competition dubbed Africa Balloon Fiesta precision flying event on the morning of the second day.

The push for balloon safaris also comes in the wake of environmental and animal protection campaigns which hope to create more eco-friendly attractions in the country.

“Balloons are an eco-friendly way of watching wildlife without creating noise and does not distract animals in their natural habitat the same way vehicles do,” says Mbugua.

The number of companies offering the hot air balloon rides in Kenya has gone up to 10, signalling a growth in the number of tourists preferring the balloon rides as a way of viewing wildlife.

The wrap-around view of the earth and sky is one which can be experienced no other way.

Binoculars and a camera are a must on this trip as this is a photographic opportunity not to be missed.

“What other fantastic way is there to end the year than watching breathtaking landscape and spectacular wildlife from 1,000 feet in the sky with your staff, clients, peers and loved ones creating lifetime memories as you support a good cause” asks Declerck.

Tickets to the fiesta are available in all Nakumatt stores in Nairobi.

This story originally appeared in Business Daily. Click HERE to go to the story.

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